Kona Renewal


Kona Skatepark needs work. The owner of the longest running private skatepark is trying to raise money for repairs to the park. The fundraising campaign is incredibly vague on what the 50k is going to be used for, instead pointing to a recent Folio Weekly article that sheds light on Kona’s interesting, sometimes troubled history as it approaches it’s 39th year in operation. For instance, the park declared bankruptcy twice in the first 18 months after opening in 1977. It was in limbo for 6 months before the the current owner’s (Martin Ramos) parents bought it. Economic downturns, wildly unfortunate personal accidents, and some questionable business decisions, all detailed in the article, make public funding for a privately owned skatepark a hard sell. Kona’s place in history and many skateboarders hearts might help it stay alive. Ramos has some interesting ideas to help keep the park afloat, some of which you’ve heard before that haven’t really worked for anyone else…

Ramos’ biggest idea seems to be adding stadium seating to attract more big contests. However, the contest circuit just isn’t lucrative enough. If you’ve ever been to an X-games or Dew Tour in person you’ve probably seen all the empty seats that are usually just out of the field of view of the TV cameras. Ticket sales to these events aren’t keeping the circuit afloat, it’s TV revenue and other advertising. Of course those events have to rent the venues they put up in, so they do rely on ticket sales to a certain extent, just make it look good on TV. I haven’t been to a Street League event in a couple years, but it wasn’t very full the last I was there, though it’s certainly grown by now. The point is, relying on the whim of corporate marketing budgets doesn’t seem like a very stable business. Pay-to-play skateboarding is a hard row to hoe in this day and age. The skateparks as tourism dollars strategy gets weaker and weaker with every public skatepark that gets built.

What are the alternatives? How about turning the park over to the city to be operated as a public skatepark and splitting off the “pro-shop” into a separate business with smaller overhead? Not as glamorous for sure, and the decision to give up part of a family business cannot be an easy one.

I hope Kona stays open for sure, and I’m planning on visiting this spring. If you want to help out you can visit the Go Fund Me campaign.

1 Comment

  1. Lard bomb on October 24, 2015 - Reply

    Ramos should just sell it to the state and make it free public park. That seems to be the trend. Private parks are collectively dead

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